Friday, April 20, 2018

No More Guessing About How Your Cows Feel

Okay, I'll admit it. Sometimes I find myself staring at my cows, daydreaming. I am wondering what they are thinking, how they are feeling and how I could help them be both more comfortable and productive (I think the former would help the latter!). While we haven't figured out how to tap into a cow's thoughts quite yet, we now have the ability to better monitor their health, nutrition, reproductive status and comfort. Enter SCR Heatime®.

SCR Heatime® is an advanced cow monitoring system designed to collect and analyze data that can be used for individual cow management and immediate decision implementation related to breeding, cow health and ration formulation. These systems successfully deliver insights dairy producers need, when they need them.

Use SCR Heatime® to:
» Recognize sick cows much earlier, which reduces time spent watching cows to identify         those that are sick 
» Use rumination data to detect potential health concerns
» Avoid over-treating animals and track successful treatments» Identify stressors» See how cows adjust to feed changes» Identify more cows in heat and create a timeline for insemination» Reduce hormone dependency by 50-80%

The fantastic thing about purchasing a system from the team at GENEX is just that - the GENEX team! Count on our professional staff to provide installation, set-up, continued training and technical support.

For more on SCR Heatime®, visit our website or talk to your GENEX representative, and make daydreaming about how your cows feel a thing of the past.

Monday, April 9, 2018

April Jersey Sire Summary Highlights

15 Sires Added to Industry-Leading GENEX Jersey Lineup

1JE01054 ACHIEVER {3}, an exciting Avon son, leads the GENEX new releases at an impressive +803 for the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index, +710 Cheese Merit (CM$) and +210 JPI™. He has an exceptional +27.2 JUI™ while improving yield with a +541 Cheese Maximizer (ChMAX$) sub-index ranking. ACHIEVER {3} will add impressive longevity at +6.6 Productive Life (PL) while also improving component percentages. He is available in GenChoice™ sexed semen only.

1JE01073 HALL {4} is an early 1JE00922 RONALDO {3} son joining the lineup at +791 ICC$, +662 CM$ and +196 JPI™. Use HALL {4} to add production efficiency with a +628 ChMAX$ sub-index rank. He is +144 combined Fat & Protein (CFP) and over +1100 Milk. He is available in GenChoice™ semen only.
1JE01073 HALL {4}

1JE01047 ARENA {3} is another Avon son at +739 ICC$ and +651 CM$. He is extremely balanced with impressive rankings on all three sub-indexes, along with a +0.3 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR), +29.2 JUI™ and +125 CFP. ARENA {3} is 91 BBR and available in GenChoice™ semen only.

1JE01041 KAZAN {3} is +735 ICC$ and +183 JPI™. This Avon son comes in at +594 CM$ and +127 CFP while maintaining +14.4 JUI™ and +0.3 DPR. KAZAN is GenChoice™ only.
1JE01069 AMPLIFY {3}, a new 1JE00892 VANDRELL {2} son is +709 ICC$, +666 CM$ and +194 JPI™. Use AMPLIFY {3} to add positive component percentages, improve udders (+19.3 JUI™) and daughter fertility (+0.4 DPR). He is 92 BBR and available in GenChoice™ semen only.

1JE01076 JACK BAUER {3} is an early 1JE00921 EUSEBIO {4} son debuting at +680 ICC$, +582 CM$ and +175 JPI™. He will add milk yield while siring daughters with impressive udders at +21.9 JUI™. JACK BAUER {3} is 92 BBR and available in GenChoice™ semen only.

1JE01046 FRESCA {3}
A group of Marlo sons were added to the lineup in 1JE01028 APPROACH {3} at +698 ICC$, 1JE01048 EVERLASTING {3} at +678 ICC$, 1JE01046 FRESCA {3} at +673 ICC$, 1JE01036 NORBERT {3} at +664 ICC$ and 1JE00970 STEPH {3} at +615 ICC$. All five will add impressive component yields, especially Fat while also improving udders with high JUI™ values. FRESCA {3} and NORBERT {3} are +590 and +576 CM$ respectively and are both available in GenChoice™ semen only.

Additional Highlights

1JE01057 CESPEDES {3} maintains his spot as an industry leader. This Marlo son carries an
impressive +215 JPI™ and +754 CM$ and is the ICC$ index leader at +841. CESPEDES {3} is an exceptional yield sire with +137 CFP while also possessing a positive DPR value. Use this sire to improve udders (+22.4 JUI™) and improve component percentages. CESPEDES {3} is 92 BBR and available in GenChoice™ semen only.

1JE00922 RONALDO {3} added early production daughters and ranks well at +769 ICC$, +645 CM$ and +194 JPI™. With over +1700 Milk and +158 CFP, RONALDO daughters are sure to add production.

Friday, April 6, 2018

April Holstein Sire Summary Highlights

New Sires for Creating Ideal Commercial Cows

Topping the lineup for the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index following the April proofs are a trio of outstanding sires in 1HO13023 MR WISCONSIN, 1HO12917 MIKE and 1HO11955 BEYOND. Just behind them is a trio of new releases all over +1100 ICC$.

The top new release according to the ICC$ index is 1HO12990 NET. This 1HO11643 DAMIEN son out of a Supershot is destined to impress with his +1113 ICC$ and +572 for the Production Efficiency (PREF$) sub-index, meaning he has genetics that result in high‑yielding cows with lower feed costs. NET also stands at +901 Lifetime Net Merit (LNM$), adds longevity (+8.2 Productive Life) and improves udders (+2.07 Udder Composite). He offers all-round calving ease too, with a low 6.2% Sire Calving Ease (SCE) and 3.6% Daughter Calving Ease (DCE).

1HO12990 NET

is an outcross by Barclay with an extremely balanced genetic profile: +1112 ICC$, +382 for the Health (HLTH$) sub-index and +862 LNM$. Use BEACHBOY to improve udders (+1.66 Udder Composite), moderate frame size and improve yield (+124 CFP). He adds daughter fertility (+2.7 Daughter Pregnancy Rate), extends longevity (+7.7 PL) and has a low 5.0% SCE. To top it off, he displays impressive values for the GENEX proprietary health traits at 108 Metritis (MTR) and 104 Subclinical Ketosis (SCK).

Rounding out the new releases over +1100 ICC$ is the new Jett son 1HO13415 TANZANITE. He debuts at +1113 ICC$ and +826 LNM$. This udder specialist is +2.18 Udder Composite (UDC) while packing in production at +131 CFP and +1817 Milk. With his 107 MTR, he’s also a good option for helping to manage the cost and impact associated with metritis in future generations.

New release 1HO13300 COOLIO is a Tesla son and a calving ease specialist at 5.4% SCE. He is +1087 ICC$ and the leader for the Fertility and Fitness (FYFT$) sub-index, which emphasizes genetics that result in optimal age at first calving, reduced days open and shorter calving intervals. His elite +4.0 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) is testament to that. COOLIO also comes in at +1.99 UDC while improving milk quality (+2.63 Somatic Cell Score).

1HO12996 KANZO is an impressive new sire with strong industry rankings. He debuts at +1066 for the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index, +953 Lifetime Net Merit (LNM$) and +2805 TPI®. This outcross sire, a DAMIEN out of a Josuper, is +151 CFP. He will sire daughters with impressive udders (+2.50 UDC) while moderating frame size. KANZO is available in GenChoice™ sexed semen only.

1HO13406 HAGAR is a new Ragen son. He is +1019 ICC$ and +864 LNM$ with an impressive +2.18 UDC. Use HAGAR with confidence in the heifer pens (6.4% SCE) while improving daughter fertility (+1.2 DPR) and adding longevity (+6.3 Productive Life).

A new bull at +955 ICC$ and +949 LNM$ is 1HO12965 RADICAL. This early 1HO11652 RADIUS son out of a Montross is known for production efficiency (+603 PREF$) with his +178 CFP and +112 Fat. Use RADICAL to improve component percentages while also siring daughters with extremely high and wide rear udders.

A new release Modesty, 1HO12986 RUSTIC is an extreme component yield sire that optimizes efficiency from trouble-free milking cows. He comes in at +921 ICC$, +193 for the Milking Ability (MABL$) sub-index and +117 Fat. Use RUSTIC to also improve udders at +1.99 UDC. Another new Modesty, 1HO13513 PURSUIT is an elite type and milk yield sire. He is +2.11 PTAT, +2.66 UDC and comes in at +1996 Milk with +141 CFP. This all comes in a calving ease package: +77 Calving Ability (CABL$), 5.4% SCE, 2.7% DCE.


Also joining the lineup is an early 1HO11670 GATEDANCER son in 1HO12966 RUMBLE. He is an elite type sire at +2.30 PTAT and +2.57 UDC. RUMBLE stands at +942 ICC$ and +2751 TPI® while also improving milk quality at +2.58 SCS.

1HO13424 SUBZERO, an early 1HO11959 WRENCH son, is +877 ICC$ and is a production and type specialist. SUBZERO debuts at +148 CFP while also sporting PTAT and UDC values over +2.00. SUBZERO is available in GenChoice™ sexed semen only.

In addition to these new releases, GENEX icon sire 1HO10396 CABRIOLET continues to
impress. Now with over 10,000 daughters, he stands at +953 ICC$ and +895 LNM$. This
extremely reliable sire can be used to add a balanced genetic profile with +154 CFP, positive
component percentages while moderating frame size. CABRIOLET is ideal for heifer pens as
the leader for the CABL$ sub-index.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Follow the Three Cs of Heat Detection

The most successful heat detection programs contain the three C's ...

Consistency refers to uniform marking in each pen. Uniformity is especially critical on dairies where groups of breeders work together or alternate between satellite operations. Consistency means marking each cow in one direction, using the livestock marker like an ink pen and not a battering ram, and applying enough product so the color is bright. When done with a pen, the breeder should be able to look down the row and see a consistent chalk color. They've then made finding heats the next day a little easier!
Concentration. One cannot have an off day when heat detecting. Your focus needs to be on each cow and whether you need to pay closer attention to her that day. Give emphasis to allowing cows more down time out of the head locks. Heat detectors can't afford to daydream. Concentrate, make good decisions and move on!
Commitment. Heat detection can't just be by chance. It takes a deliberate effort of observation and technique each and every day.
Breeders who are truly committed to excelling at heat detection are not satisfied with only finding those easy-money heats. If you haven't lifted a few tails or palpated a couple of questionable cows, you are probably having an off day.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pendergrast Celebrates 50 Years of Providing Service

It all started with Midwest Breeders and the magic wand, and 50 years later Gary Pendergrast of Polo, Missouri, is still providing artificial insemination (A.I.) service.

Throughout this time, he’s seen many changes from ampules to straws and the innovation of sexed semen. A highlight of his career was working on the Lutalyse® trial many years ago; 115 heifers from a herd in his service area were used in this trial.

“I became an early proponent of synchronization due to my first-hand experience with that trial,” states Gary. “Synchronization was a gamechanger for the A.I. industry. I can breed so many more in one day than I even dreamed of 50 years ago.”

Over the years, he’s kept meticulous records of every breeding he’s ever done. In total, 71,000 cows and one buffalo make the list. “One buffalo?” you ask. Gary says he’s agreed to every A.I. project anyone has called him for, even when it was a buffalo.

Last May, Gary had open heart surgery and received strict doctor’s orders to not breed cows for 90 days. This marked the longest period in his life without breeding cows. Rest assured, he was back on day 90.

Gary is a self-proclaimed cattle engineer and thoroughly enjoys his work.

“By far, the best part of this industry is working with the people,” states Gary. “And as long as I’m able, I’ll continue to breed cows.”

And with a smile, he adds, “I think I should be good for another 20 years.”

Gary, thank you for your dedication to the A.I. industry.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Employees Are the Heart of Every Business - The GENEX Difference

Today is National Employee Appreciation Day. I have spent time in past posts giving you ideas on reducing your employee cull rate and ways you can show your employees how thankful you are for their hard work. Today I would like to highlight the heart of GENEX, our dedicated staff. We can say we don't need affirmation of our work, but, let's face it, it sure feels good when your boss lets you know how great you are! So today I bring you Huub te Plate, COO, in his address to the Annual Meeting on why GENEX is different.
Thank you for being service-oriented, reliable and down-to-earth and for possessing integrity and loyalty. You do make a difference to your customers. I routinely have people post on our Facebook page about the excellent service you provide. Phrases such as, "going above and beyond," "I've watched her work, and she is amazing at it" and "we consider him a friend" are commonplace when talking about GENEX employees.

Happy Employee Appreciation Day. I am honored to call you my co-workers!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Strategic Breeding: A Purpose for Every Pregnancy

By: Gwen Powers, Director of Strategic Accounts-Western U.S., GENEX

As the U.S. dairy industry continues to grow in total cow numbers (with fewer farms), the push for dairies to be more efficient is greater than ever. This is especially true in today’s constantly changing market. Therefore, many producers are applying strategic breeding protocols to better streamline their operations; this includes how they produce replacements and manage excess non-replacement calves.

The number of replacements a farm needs is determined by the cull rate or turnover rate and the average age at freshening. With adequate conception rates and some use of gendered semen a dairy likely produces excess replacements annually. This raises the question, “Does a farm need every pregnancy to be a dairy-sired calf?” Depending on the local market, beef-sired calves could generate a premium. Beef semen can be used on the herd in a strategic manner. For instance, beef semen can be used on lower genetic merit animals (as determined by parent average or a genomic test) so these later lactation cows are kept in production without generating replacement females.

Identifying which animals to breed with different semen types is one of the first steps in a strategic breeding program. What is the best way to sort females? Parent averages can be used but accuracy varies based on the herd’s record keeping. Custom indexes or performance data can also be factored in alongside parent averages. The more accurate tool, however, is genomic testing. When applying genomic test results to strategic breeding programs, producers can increase the genetic merit of their herds which in turn should increase production and create an all-round better cow base. Genomic testing confirms parentage. It also includes a number of traits that enable a producer to develop a baseline for the herd’s genetics and decide where to improve. Health traits have been a focus in recent years, as research has shown they heavily correlate with a healthier and more efficient cow. Genomic values are available for health traits – such as subclinical ketosis, metritis, and lameness – as well as indexes that combine all health traits.

Genomic testing can help identify which animals should be bred to different semen types based on genetic merit. It can also be used to identify potential donor females for embryo transfer programs and recipients as well. Targeted use of gendered, conventional, and beef semen ensures replacements only come from animals whose genetics the producer wishes to keep in the herd. Lower genetic animals, and usually later lactation cows, are bred with beef semen to keep them in production and maximize the value of their calves sold for beef.

One option for producers with multi-site operations who are looking to capitalize on efficient replacement distribution is to dedicate one site solely to crossbreds or F1s. This would mean replacements are generated from purebred females bred to an A.I. sire from a different dairy breed - either Holstein or Jersey semen (typically sexed) - to generate replacements for the crossbred site. These F1 animals have been known to be the best of both worlds in terms of milk production, components, and efficiency. The F1s could then be bred with beef semen to generate terminal beef cross calves that, in many cases, can be sold for a premium.

Embryos are another tool producers are adding to their breeding protocols in a variety of ways. With improved technologies, embryo transfer (ET) and in-vitro fertilization are becoming more accessible to commercial dairy operations. Additional management and precise recordkeeping is critical when adding ET technologies, but the benefits can be significant. Improved genetic merit can be achieved quicker by selecting high genetic merit donor females and transferring embryos into lower genetic merit recipients. F1 embryos are another option for sites that are interested in generating replacements without entering an elaborate crossbreeding scheme.

The implementation of a strategic breeding program is a hurdle that producers must overcome. Once the herd inventory is sorted based on parent averages, a custom index, genomic testing or specific criteria within lactations that a producer wishes to focus on, then animals are coded through a mating program to be bred to a certain type of semen. If the animals’ pedigrees are known, the mating program can also choose individual mating sires that limit inbreeding.

When making the change to a strategic breeding approach, it is important to consider the dairy’s individual goals and current marketplace. Once a strategy is created, it should be followed through long enough to see the results. In return, dairies can more efficiently utilize available technologies to maximize herd genetics and ultimately profitability.

If you need help developing your strategic breeding program, GENEX can help. Talk to your representative about our ProspectiveSM programa semen profit comparison tool, to get started.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Proprietary Traits-Genetic Improvement Through Data-Driven Innovation

You have hopefully heard that GENEX released an Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index for Jerseys with the December 2017 sire summaries, and you may have noticed mention of two proprietary traits included in the index. So what are they and what do they measure? Read on as our U.S. Dairy Marketing Manager and Jersey farmer herself, Leah James, helps us explain.

GENEX has released Calf Survivability (CSRV) and Age at First Calving (AAFC) evaluations to
address critical areas of concern within the Jersey breed.

“CSRV brings awareness to genetics that instill hardiness and survivability in newborn calves,” explains Leah.

“AgSource Dairy data for a five-and-a-half-year period from January 2012 through July 2017 shows that 6.5% of Jersey calves died between 2 and 120 days of age,” adds Leah. “The new CSRV breeding value, included in the Sustainability subindex of the Ideal Commercial Cow index for Jerseys, aims to provide genetic selection to improve the survivability of Jersey calves.”

The CSRV breeding value, available on all GENEX sires, reflects the percent of female calves that survived past 120 days of age. The breeding value is set to a base of 100, meaning 100 is average. Expect about a 5.5% difference in calf survivability between daughters of a 105 CSRV bull and daughters of a 95 CSRV bull. CSRV has an 8.1% heritability.

The second trait, AAFC, highlights the importance of daughter fertility among Jersey cattle.

“In surveying some of our Jersey customers, it was clear that getting heifers calved in early is a point of focus, especially considering the negative trend for daughter fertility over the past 50+ years,” notes Leah. “AAFC aims to get heifers calved in early because that equals bottom‑line profit for the dairy.”

The AAFC breeding value is indicative of the heifer growing and maturing faster and being reproductively viable at a younger age. It is included within the Fertility sub-index of the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index for Jerseys.

The breeding value is set to a base of 100. Expect about a 44-day difference in age at first calving
between daughters of a 105 AAFC bull and daughters of a 95 AAFC bull. Heritability is at 18.7%.

All GENEX proprietary health traits are calculated by the CRI ICB using the CRI dairy research database, which includes:
› Genomic profiles
› On-farm records
› Real-time production values

The database continues to grow and currently includes over 54 million health records on nearly
GENEX proprietary traits are set to a base of 100, meaning a breeding value of 100 is average. 12 million cows.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Answers to Your Most Asked Beef Synchronization Questions

While breeding season may be a bit away yet, it is the perfect time to evaluate your procedures and make decisions on protocols. Our Beef Marketing and Education Manager, Sarah Thorson, took a few minutes to answer some of the most frequently asking questions concerning synchronization protocols.

What is the best synchronization protocol for cows and heifers?
There isn’t an easy answer to this question. Yes, research suggests some protocols perform better than others, but just because research says it’s the best protocol, doesn’t necessarily make it the best protocol for your operation. I always advise people to ask themselves three questions before choosing a synchronization protocol:
› How many times am I willing to put the female through the chute?
› How much am I willing to spend on synchronization drugs?
› What are my expectations for results?
Once you know the answers to these questions you can objectively analyze which synchronization program is the best fit for your operation. No matter what the research or experts tell you, the best protocol for your operation is one that aligns with your goals and you are 100% confident you can perform perfectly from start to finish.

What criteria should I use to ensure females are good candidates for A.I.?
The answer depends if you are synchronizing heifers or cows.
Criteria for synchronizing heifers:
› Should have achieved at least 65% of mature body weight
› Minimum of 50% should have reproductive tract score of ≥ 4 at six weeks before breeding
If you don’t have a veterinarian in your area that offers reproductive tract scoring, don’t panic! You can achieve the same thing by visually observing your heifers for heat in the weeks and months leading up to breeding. You want to observe at least 50% are cycling six weeks prior to breeding.

Criteria for synchronizing cows:
› Body Condition Score of ≥ 5 at calving
› Cows to be synchronized should have a mean postpartum interval of ≥ 40 days at the beginning of the protocol
› Each cow should be a minimum of 21 days postpartum at the time of Eazi-Breed™ CIDR® insertion
› Low incidence of calving difficulty

Where is the best place to give synchronization injections? What needle size should I use?
Synchronization drugs should be given in the muscle (IM), with the exception of LUTALYSE® Hi-Con which can be administered IM or subcutaneously. When administering synchronization drugs, I recommend using a 1-½ inch, 18-gauge needle. And people don’t often ask, but I always mention you should wear gloves when handling any synchronization drugs to avoid contact with skin.

Can I reuse CIDR® inserts?
CIDR® inserts are labeled as a one-time use item by the manufacturer, and I recommend following this guideline.
I know CIDR® inserts are one of the most expensive parts of a synchronization protocol, retailing at $10 to $12. It is tempting to cut that cost in half by using a CIDR® for a second time. The next time you are tempted to do this, ask yourself what another A.I. calf is worth to you. My guess is that it’s a lot more than $5 to $6.

Can I give vaccines/dewormer while I’ve got the cow in the chute and am inserting the CIDR®?
A pre-breeding vaccination program is an important part of an overall successful A.I. program. However, several studies have shown injection of naïve heifers with a modified live vaccine (MLV) around the time of breeding resulted in ovarian lesions and decreased pregnancy rates. Therefore, I recommend that all pre-breeding vaccinations be given at least 30 days prior to breeding.

While there isn’t any research that suggests administering dewormer at breeding will have a negative impact on fertility, I recommend doing that at least 30 days prior to breeding as well. The less stress you put on females around breeding time, the better your success. To achieve optimal results, it’s best to do as little as possible to the females during the synchronization and breeding process.

How long should I wait to move the cows after insemination?
The most critical time periods for embryonic development occur between day five, when the embryo begins its migration from the oviduct to the uterus, and day 42, when the embryo has made definitive attachment to the uterus. Research indicates shipping cows during this critical time in embryo development can cause a 10% decrease in pregnancy rates. The best time to move cattle is prior to insemination or days one to four post breeding. If you can’t move them within this time period, it’s best to wait until after day 45. To learn more about shipping cows during this critical time period, click here.

Despite what research might say, no single synchronization protocol fits every operation. Know your operation, follow the suggestions above and trust your gut. And if you ever have any other questions, remember I’m only a phone call away!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Give Calves a Push!

By: Suzanne Lois, Resale Product Advisor

A newborn calf’s first few hours on earth and how quickly it suckles down Mother Nature’s energy and protein drink, the dam’s colostrum, will likely determine how healthy it will be for the next few months. Colostrum provides the calf with two key components: antibodies and ENERGY, ENERGY, ENERGY!

Often not highlighted when talking about the first feeding of colostrum is the energy source it provides the calf. A newborn calf has limited storage of fat reserves; in fact, it doesn’t even have enough reserves to survive 24 hours in a stressful environment. In order for the immune system to work properly, energy is crucial.

Colostrum provides a jolt of energy similar to that of an energy drink. The colostral milkfat provides the required source of energy to help jumpstart a calf’s immune system. Calves should consume colostrum as soon as possible; however, we do encounter circumstances where the calf doesn’t have enough energy to get up and nurse. It could be for a number of reasons, including the calf being born in muddy, cold conditions, suffering from a hard calving or being born a twin. And, of course, there are always those circumstances where you wonder if the calf did or didn’t get up and suckle yet. So, what can you do to get the calf up and suckling? At GENEX, we suggest giving the calf a little “push.” Push™ calf nutritional paste, that is.

Push™ paste is made from high quality, pasteurized bovine colostrum and contains both globulin proteins and colostral fats found in colostrum. While it does not replace colostrum, it does provide plenty of energy and can help with immune stimulation at the cellular level. A tube of Push™ paste will provide a calf with enough nutrients to support energy needs for up to a 12-hour period, depending on the condition the calf is in. Those who have tried Push™ paste are amazed how
the product can increase a calf’s energy to help combat challenges it may experience in the first few hours of life.

A dam’s colostrum is nature’s perfect first meal, providing the necessary antibodies and energy to get
the calf off to the best possible start. Yet, sometimes calves need a little nudge to get started, so why not give a tube of Push™ calf nutritional paste?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Is Being a GENEX Delegate for You?

If you have been following along on our social media channels this week, you know it was GENEX Annual Meeting time. Perhaps you read some of the posts and wondered who our delegates were. If you are a GENEX member, they are just like you - farm men and women from across the U.S. who are willing to give a few days of their year to the governance of their cooperative. Want to know a little more about the process? Read on.

First we will start with the commitment. 
Delegates are elected yearly and attend a regional fall delegate meeting, where new cooperative information is shared and various topics are presented for input. GENEX is fortunate to be able to utilize the expertise of our delegates and have incorporated many suggestions and ideas into our plan of work.

In addition to the fall delegate meetings, delegates also participate in the annual meeting. This two-day event includes the business meeting, as well as a variety of educational breakout sessions. Take a look at our Facebook or Twitter accounts for more on what took place this year.
A speaker from DMI talks with delegates on protecting their farm from activists.
So who are our delegates?
I have been able to write about several of our delegates over the past couple of years. You may be interested to learn more about Ron Koetsier from California, Scott Erthum from Nebraska, or Alexa Kayhart from Vermont. I also recently interviewed Rachel Freund from Connecticut. You can find that article in the January Horizons, Dairy Edition on pages 20 and 21.

While our delegate are from across the country and appear to be very diverse, they are all very similar in their desire to help the cooperative they are a part of. All of the ones I have interviewed will also tell you they feel they get a tremendous return on their investment as well. Being able to grow their network and learning more about the cooperative are probably two of the biggest rewards these men and women receive.

Is it your time?
Now that you know more about how the governance of your cooperative functions, are you ready to help as well? Contact Terri Dallas, VP of Communications at

Friday, January 19, 2018

Helping Make the Ideal Commercial Jersey Cow a Reality

Scott Carson, GENEX Director of Dairy Procurement, is a longtime Jersey enthusiast and former Jersey producer and breeder. He led the team that formulated the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index for Jerseys. His background provides unique insight into this new index which was released following the December 2017 sire summaries.

Our goal was to create an index that would enable producers to select bulls that will positively impact their bottom line. The idea was to emphasize traits that are really important to our customers and weed out extra information that doesn’t really impact farm profitability.

Over the past couple decades, the Jersey breed has changed significantly. The population has grown remarkably. With that, the Jersey cow grew taller, stronger and added a lot more width. Udder confirmation improved dramatically in the 1990s and then deteriorated a bit before improving again over the last 5-6 years.

While Jersey producers have selected for these traits as well as enormous gains in yield traits, there has been a significant decline in fertility traits. That’s a natural tradeoff of selecting aggressively for yield traits. Today, that decrease in fertility is a real cause for concern among Jersey producers. It’s one of the concerns the ICC$ index for Jerseys addresses.

From my perspective, one of the things the index does best is provide producers with a way to rank bulls on fertility traits and on health traits. Through its sub-index structure, the ICC$ index is setting a framework for the industry. The sub-indexes provide producers with tools to focus on their traits of interest. The ICC$ index gives anyone interested in brown cows – the smaller cows that are more feed efficient – the tools to breed cows that are ideal for a commercial setting.

Cheese Maximizer (ChMAX$) focuses on component yields and provides equal weightings on both Fat and Protein pounds. Unique among Jersey indexes, the ICC$ index is neutral
on milk – instead focusing on total Combined Fat and Protein.

50% Protein
50% Fat

Sustainability (SUST$) consists of traits that are critical to keeping animals healthy and in production. One is a new GENEX proprietary trait, Calf Survivability (CSRV). Also included are udder traits that impact culling rate (35% Udder Cleft, 30% Udder Depth, 25% Fore Udder and 10% Teat Length). Selection for the SUST$ sub-index emphasizes udder
health, longevity, functional udder traits and calf survivability.

35% Productive Life
15% Udder Traits
14% Livability
12% Calf Survivability
12% Mastitis Resistance
12% Somatic Cell Score

Fertility (FERT$) contains five measures of cow and heifer fertility. This sub‑index includes the GENEX proprietary trait Age at First Calving (AAFC) to meet the needs of producers looking to emphasize reproductive efficiency. Selection of bulls with high FERT$ rankings results in optimal age at first calving, reduced days open and shorter calving intervals.
50% Daughter Pregnancy Rate
25% Heifer Conception Rate
15% Cow Conception Rate
5% Age at First Calving
5% Fertility Haplotypes

Friday, January 12, 2018

Quality Matters to Us, Because Performance Matters to You

By: Kari Beth Krieger, Processing Lab Manager, GENEX

Breeding cows with cryopreserved semen is really an act of faith. You can’t see the sperm cells or know they are fertile unless you thaw the straw for evaluation, thus destroying the possibility of using it for insemination. You must have faith in the company that produced the straw and in the semen handling protocols that kept the straw in good condition – from the time it was frozen all the way through shipping, storage and placed in tank inventories – until the straw is selected for breeding.

GENEX has a solid history of fertility and quality, allowing you to place your faith in our product. Let’s take a tour through the GENEX semen processing lab to understand all the ways GENEX ensures we deserve that faith.

We only keep the good stuff
After semen is collected, it arrives in the lab for a thorough evaluation of concentration, motility and percent of abnormal cells. Semen that doesn’t meet our rigorous standards is discarded and does not go any further in the process. We toss up to 25% of raw ejaculates!

A unique product
GENEX uses a milk-based extender made in-house. It takes extra time to make and process semen in milk, in comparison to using a purchased extender, but it gives our
customers several advantages. When combined with our processing methods, semen extended with milk can tolerate a wide range of thawing temperatures with no negative impact on fertility. More importantly, large field trials have indicated that GENEX milk-extended semen has a significant fertility advantage over extenders with an egg yolk base. Furthermore, the milk seems to provide the antioxidants and nutrients sperm cells
need for maximum viability. This 1.5% fertility advantage translates to a major advantage for your bottom line.

We check our work
Every step of our process is connected to the demand for high quality. From the time a sire walks into the collection room to the time his semen straws are packed on a cane for
shipment, we track sire identification and ensure accurate labeling. We test each filler/sealer machine daily to ensure the straws have functional seals, and we confirm correct function of measurement instruments like scales and spectrophotometers. Our staff members are trained to notice deviations or abnormalities and address them immediately. GENEX staff has an extraordinary commitment to producing a top-quality product.

Someone else checks our work
To ensure our protocols are working correctly, approximately 10% of all semen batches produced are sent to an independent reference laboratory for evaluation. At the reference laboratory, advanced technology is used to evaluate semen quality and count the number of cells per straw. Feedback from this analysis allows us to verify our routine quality control evaluations are accurate.

GENEX is dedicated to being your partner by offering top genetics and the most fertile semen in the industry. We follow rigorous semen collection and laboratory protocols so you can rest assured that what you are unable to see is as good as you could expect.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Five Tips for Dealing With Trying Times

I am sure I don't have to tell you things are a little trying right now. Prices are less than favorable, temperatures are downright cruel, and a lack of daylight doesn't help either. It is at times like these I need to spend more time than usual to keep myself positive. Hopefully these five tips will give you the spark you need to put a little pep back in your step.
  1. Take time to recognize positives that are occurring in your life. New calves; the cat that actually caught a mouse for once; your neighbor who stopped by with a cup of coffee because he/she knew how cold you must be; the amazing sound of, well nothing, when you wake up and walk to the barn in the morning (my personal favorite!); the beautiful sunrise allowing you to start again fresh. All of the above and more make my daily reflection time. Some people find it beneficial to write these types of things in a journal. I just spend a few moments whenever the time is right to give praise for all of the wonderful things that are happening around me.
  2. Help someone else. This doesn't have to burn through your already-stretched-thin time and
    money. It can be as simple as a quick call to a farm friend to see how they are doing or running
    after someone who dropped their glove in the farm store parking lot. The intrinsic value of helping others far outweighs the moments needed to complete it.
  3. Focus on your physical health. Since exercise isn't usually needed by most who farm or ranch (Although, many people find that a good workout, run or walk will help to alleviate stress as well.), this point is more about eating and sleeping. With the extra work this extended cold has meant, many people find mealtime to be a place they can steal from to get extra time in their workday. Don't make this a habit. Your body, and maybe even more importantly in these difficult times, mind, need proper nourishment. There are all kinds of gadgets out there that have made cooking for a busy family a lot easier. Check out all of the recipes online for slow cookers or electric pressure cookers. Great meals don't have to mean hours in the kitchen.

    So how are you sleeping? Do you even know what that word is? Find a way to unwind at night so you can get the sleep your body so desperately needs. Everything seems better when you are well rested!
  4. Take time away from the farm or ranch. Go for a drive or catch a local high school basketball game. You need some time to be away from the farm or ranch. Your mental health is important. Find the time. You will be more efficient on the farm when you feel better.
  5. Connect with another human being. I know cows can be really good listeners, but sometimes having another human to empathize with you is important. My Dad recently crushed his pelvis in an accident. He has to use a wheelchair until his bones have healed enough to start to use a
    walker and then a cane. While he has been surprisingly upbeat about the situation, a recent call from an old friend put things into perspective for him. That friend has been wheelchair bound for 12 years, and remains an incredibly positive person. He gave Dad some great tips on getting around and staying comfortable.

    Seek out someone to talk to about your situation. They may have new ideas to help. My personal recommendation would be to do this point in conjunction with numbers 3 and 4 above. Who doesn't love some great food and conversation in a nice, local restaurant?